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Win-Win: AP Automation for Your Accounting Practice and Your Client

Jillian Straw
Posted by Jillian Straw on Feb 10, 2022 3:00:48 PM

Your clients are engaging your services because they value your expertise. As a bookkeeper, you offer specialized services, but with the help of accounting automation, you can also offer increased value past regular bookkeeping tasks.

If your firm leverages technology solutions, like Accounts Payable (AP) automation, you can provide a number of different benefits to both your client and your own team. AP automation simplifies the life of your client, so they can leave behind manual computer work and instead focus on staff, operations, and customer satisfaction. Invoice digitization can also streamline your own workflow, saving your team from time-consuming and tedious manual processes.

And with the efficiencies from AP automation software, you can also move beyond just offering traditional services. A focus on strategic business consulting, such as cash flow management, can help you find new opportunities to grow client loyalty and referral business in the future. 

Invoice automation can benefit your client’s operations, your accounting team processes, and also serve as fuel for expanding your business.

Why Choose AP Automation?

The features of AP automation software can bring value to both your accounting team and the businesses you serve.

Easy Invoice Upload

Manual invoice input is time-consuming and error-prone, especially if your client processes many invoices that are arriving in different formats. Centralizing and streamlining your invoice upload benefits both bookkeepers and clients. 

Simplifying how clients upload invoices is particularly helpful for small businesses, where owners and operators have many different responsibilities. With invoice digitization, your client can use a scanner, phone, email, or vendor EDI to enter invoices in bulk.

Easy invoice upload also helps bookkeeping and accounting firms. Your team can avoid shuffling paper around or worrying about software integration or manual data transfer, and instead access a centralized database. 

What successes can you enjoy through deploying AP Automation? One firm, MCM CPAs & Advisors, a full-service accounting firm based out of Kentucky that uses Plate IQ as an AP solution, implemented a system to streamline invoice upload for both their clients and the accounting team. They replaced shipping containers of paper invoices coming to their office with a digital system. Instead of stuffing paper invoices into boxes, clients now snap photos of invoices with their phones, upload PDFs, or forward email to their unique AP automation email address.

“We’ve created Plate IQ email addresses for our clients to send invoices. Some of them use the Plate IQ app on their phone to take images and upload them. Vendors are sending invoices directly to those email addresses, too,” said Katie West, manager in MCM’s Client Accounting Services Group.

Automated GL Coding

An invoice processing solution that can automate data entry, transcription, and general ledger (GL) coding can add in enormous time savings for your team while also benefiting your client. 

An AP solution can automatically capture header data and line-by-line details like product names, costs, and quantities. Instead of repeating the task every week, you can map line items to GL codes once, and the software will apply it every time. This can not only save time for your team but also helps you avoid manual entry errors and the bandwidth required to hunt down and fix mistakes.

If your clients were doing any coding before, they can also benefit from the time savings. The more accurate the data, the better any operational reporting. Your clients can rely on accurate data as they make decisions, creating a ripple effect across the business.

Automated GL coding is a particular benefit for companies that handle large numbers of detailed, diverse invoices, like food and beverage businesses. Managers or operators that may have been stuck behind the computer, doing repetitive, mundane transcription and coding, can instead focus energy on operations and customer service.

Streamlined Invoice Tracking

Vendors, invoicing, and bill payment involve a lot of moving pieces. There are usually a few hiccups: vendors forget the attachment to the email, someone sends a duplicate invoice, or invoice totals don’t match up.

Reconciling the books is an essential task for your practice. AP automation can help you close faster by automatically detecting and flagging duplicate invoices and notifying decision-makers through your custom workflow when information is missing. 

To simplify invoice tracking even further, you can email vendors from a centralized dashboard, consolidating your correspondence. Images can be linked to the invoice, even when pushed through to accounting software, so you don’t need to search in a different system to find the relevant information.

Simplified Bill Pay

A manual bill pay process has always been a time-consuming task. If your accounting firm processed payments manually, you had to deal with scanning invoices and checks, email back and forth with the client to get approvals and send out paper checks and invoice stubs. It was a process that required a lot of communication and was heavy on paper.

An invoice processing solution that comes with a bill pay platform removes extra backup storage or manually connects payment stubs to checks. Invoices can flow seamlessly into bill payments, adding efficiencies.

Some bill pay solutions like Plate IQ charge the same for the VendorPay platform every month, instead of charging a fee per transaction or ACH. You can also leverage custom payment approval flow, built for your client’s needs, to take away tedious communication and easily track where the invoice is in the process.

Simplified bill pay streamlines the final invoice payment step for your accounting team, and it also helps you add value to clients as their vendors get paid faster.

Valuable Historical Data and Reporting

Finally, the digitization of invoice records allows both clients and accountants to easily reference historical information. Document storage doesn’t cost extra for the client, which means you don’t need to mark up your firm’s services. 

If an audit is needed, both you and the client have access to the full digital “breadcrumb trail”. Instead of stuffing paper in filing cabinets, both you and your client have access to a fully digital system of record with easily searchable data.

And with this information, your accounting team can use data to create reports, adding extra value for your clients (which we’ll explore next).

Becoming a Strategic Partner

To stay competitive in today’s changing accounting industry, does your firm offer strategic intelligence for your business clients? 

Yes, you are providing a service. You are responsible for completing bookkeeping and accounting tasks. However, with AP automation and bill pay solutions, you can lead your clients to new business insights as a consultant. 

You have the data and you have the business insight to steer your clients on a sound financial path. Becoming a strategic accounting partner serves as a business development strategy, driving retention and referrals.

Technology like accounting software is changing the world of accounting work. Bookkeeping is becoming more automated, and your firm needs to stay ahead of the curve. 

If you are able to proactively provide value to your clients, you are making it more likely that they will see you as a partner. While accounting services may always be needed for clients, creating advisory partnerships with clients ensures your firm is linked to the long-term health of your clients’ business. 

As Katie West from MCM CPAs & Advisors put it, “It’s something that’s discussed at every major event we have: how the industry is shifting to advisory, how we can implement automation for tasks that are currently being done by hand, how eliminating that work will help us bring more value to the client.”

“Our goal is to automate and streamline all this stuff we’re doing now so that we can really have time to analyze the financial statements and give insight into what our clients can be doing differently to be more profitable,” she added.

When you offer strategic advisory services, you are positioning yourself as an expert and bringing additional value to your clients. 

Help Clients & Grow Your Business

AP automation can help you streamline your own work and provide additional value for your clients. The system can help cut down manual work, accurately gather data, and power new strategic services. Using invoice digitization solutions to grow your own accounting practice, while also empowering your client success: that’s the very definition of a win-win.

If your firm is interested in becoming a strategic partner to your clients through AP automation, Plate IQ can help you transform your invoice and payment process. Plate IQ has you covered when you're ready to take the next step with integrations with the software you already use, including QuickBooks.

Topics: Modern Practice


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